Atemi: what it is?
a special form of strikes that different in their purpose and execution
Concept of atemi strikes is Japanese in its origin, but its element can be
found in every martial art that intended for real combat.
What is so special about it?
When purpose of punch in boxing
is to inflict the maximum damage on adversary and punching used in
serial combinations (one following another), atemi strikes are, more
often then not, a single strike following by non-striking
technique and it’s not always
designed to inflict damage.
be of one of two types:
The goal of distracting
atemi is… well – distracting.
Aikido throwing techniques are starting with the distracting atemi. Its role
is to divert attention of the opponent to the point of strike and, in some
generate backward reaction that will create favorable dynamics for
starting motion of the technique. In a real fight it may be more then one
atemi if the first one didn’t created needed reaction. It may look like
a serial strikes, but it's not because, unlike in
non-striking technique will be performed as soon as needed reaction
has been created.
As inflicting the real damage in a distracting atemi is not important, the key
technical criteria are retaining balance and good posture for performing primary,
The disabling atemi is designed to finish the
fight. It used in striking martial arts as well as in non-striking.
Disabling atemi targeting vulnerable points of the adversary’s body that became
open target as a result of an error (missing surprise attack, for example), or
in a follow-up of a successful non-atemi attack (whatever striking or
atemi needs to be executed with enough power to inflict significant physical damage they
don’t need to be as strong as good boxing or karate strikes as they targeted
vulnerable points of the body that left unprotected.
The key technical properties of atemi, ether distracting or disabling, is to be
quick, precise, and agile. The proper boxing or karate strikes designed for
maximum power are rarely effective as atemi (can only be used in “finishing” of
already defeated adversary – case that has nothing to do with self-defense).
The short strikes with open fist, base of palm, blade of hand, and nukite
are most effective.
is excellent atemi technique that should be included in any self-defense
The other point in teaching atemi strikes in self-defense
class is to take into account that your students have some other things to do
in their life. Training effort should be concentrated not on development of
strike power, but on refining accuracy, speed, and timing of application.
Board breaking is not something that everyone embraces – I won’t, for example. To
have hand injury for musician, dentist, or surgeon means the end of
a professional career, for everyone else it’s at least a big nuisance (this I’m talking
from the first-hand experience). Powerful proper boxing straight punch has been
developed just in the beginning of 20th century on the top of Marquess of Queensberry rules from 1867 that introduced padded gloves.
Karate training with striking post indeed implying purposeful deformation of a hand to create
enforced striking zone. Both approaches are questionable in the modern civilian self-defense
training as extensive use of gloves diverting technical development from
practical application toward sport application, and karate-style hand “hardening” suited
only hard-core martial-artists.